NRL star Jack de Belin repeatedly raped a tearful teenager before asking his victim why she was “being so emotional”, a New South Wales jury has been told.
“It wasn’t bad, it was good,” he allegedly told the woman as she cried in the bathroom of a North Wollongong unit in December 2018.
The St George Illawarra player, now 29, and his friend, Callan Sinclair, now 23, have pleaded not guilty to the aggravated sexual assault of the then-19-year-old after meeting her in a nightclub in Wollongong.
Outlining the crown case on Tuesday, prosecutor David Scully said the woman went to the unit in the early hours of 9 December on the understanding the men needed to charge their phones before going to another club.
As she used an ensuite toilet, de Belin walked in naked and started showering, the Wollongong district court jury was told.
Scully said the woman quickly left the room, saw Sinclair seated clothed on the bed and felt de Belin undoing her top. The prosecutor said the woman will tell the court she was pushed onto the bed and tried to cover her breasts as the men said words to the effect of “show us your tits”.
“The complainant said she wanted to go home,” Scully said on Tuesday.
The jury was told the rugby league star then pulled the woman’s legs apart, placed his hand around her throat, rested his forearm on her chest and began intercourse. Scully said the woman was crying and felt “numb”.
“On the crown case, the calls to stop and attempts to resist fell on deaf ears and there came a point where she felt incapable of offering any resistance,” he said.
Turning to Sinclair, de Belin allegedly said “Come have a go” and made way for his co-accused. De Belin proceeded to rape the woman orally, swapping positions several times with Sinclair, the prosecutor said.
When Sinclair at one point failed in an attempt to have intercourse, he left and went to the bathroom, the court was told. While Sinclair was away, de Belin moved the woman to an ottoman and resumed intercourse.
“The complainant had tears pouring down her cheeks,” Scully said. He told the jury the woman went to the shower, continued crying and said she didn’t want to have sex.
In reply, Sinclair said nothing, while de Belin said, “Why are you being so emotional? It wasn’t bad, it was good”, the prosecutor said in his opening address. Scully said the footballer told the woman, “You can keep your mouth shut, can’t you?” and she replied, “Yes”.
The trio caught an Uber back into Wollongong’s night district, with de Belin handing the woman $50 “for the Uber and to keep your mouth shut”, the prosecutor said.
Scully said the woman told friends, family and work colleagues what had happened before making a formal police statement and agreeing to a medical examination. The woman’s DNA was later found in the unit, whose usual resident was de Belin’s cousin.
Calls to and from the accused men’s phones, recorded shortly after the alleged rape, are expected to be played during the weeks-long trial. “The effect of the phone calls is that they are accepting that some sort of sexual activity occurred but they are saying it was consensual,” Scully said on Tuesday.
The jury is expected to see CCTV from a Wollongong bar showing the woman dancing, playing with de Belin’s hat and, at one point, kissing Sinclair. Scully said the “friendliness” ended when the trio got back to the unit, “where there were no cameras”.
De Belin’s mother and sister, as well as a person connected with St George, may give evidence during the trial, the player’s barrister, David Campbell SC, said on Tuesday. He asked the jury to keep an open mind because things which at first appeared “cogent, strong and accurate” could seem different as more pieces of the puzzle emerged.
The footballer “doesn’t and never has” disputed sexual activity took place, the defence lawyer said. “The issue he is raising is: everything happened with the consent of those involved.”
Craig Smith SC, for Sinclair, echoed the statements about consent and told the jury his client did not sexually assault the teenager. “There is evidence both before and after that activity that is consistent with that activity being consensual activity,” he said.
De Belin and Sinclair are both charged with five counts of aggravated sexual assault – with the aggravation being that the pair allegedly acted in company. The first count is also allegedly aggravated by de Belin causing actual bodily harm, being minor bruising to the woman’s throat and chest.
The trial continues.